Saunders backs Labor mayor in controversial speech
MARYBOROUGH'S Labor MP Bruce Saunders has publicly backed incoming Fraser Coast Mayor George Seymour and hit out at his sacked predecessor in a controversial speech.
Mr Saunders spoke in parliament on Tuesday during a debate on the State Government's new plan to tackle future corruption in Queensland's problem-plagued councils.
Under the new plan, councils and councillors charged with corruption and integrity offences will face dismissal.
A new code of conduct and councillor conduct tribunal to determine alleged misconduct are also among proposed changes.
Cr Seymour is a registered member of the Labor party, previously worked for former Hervey Bay Labor MP Andrew McNamara and has publicly campaigned for party candidates at State and Federal elections.
He said throughout his mayoral campaign that his personal political allegiance would have no influence on council business.
Cr Seymour told the Chronicle he was in regular contact with Mr Saunders and other politicians of different political parties "as a councillor should be" but that he had never disclosed confidential information.
In congratulating Cr Seymour on his win, Mr Saunders spoke glowingly in parliament about Cr Seymour's credentials made a thinly disguised swipe at ousted mayor Chris Loft.
"The people of the Fraser Coast have voted to put the Fraser Coast back on the map, they have voted to make sure that we have seen the last of the disgraceful episode of the past two years," he said.
"Had these powers been in place when we started to have trouble on the Fraser Coast, it would not have taken so long for the mayor to be dismissed under the act.
"The complaints process worried me, because with the Fraser Coast council we saw complaints sit on desks for months and months."
Mr Saunders was warned of sub-judice for comments on the former mayor, who has yet to have CCC charges levelled against him tested in court, by the house's deputy speaker Mark McArdle.
Mr Loft denies the allegations.
Mr Saunders also referred to a mail tampering incident in the council that was resolved by the Regional Conduct and Review Panel last month.
After a misconduct ruling was upheld, councillor Denis Chapman was ordered to pay a fine and apologise after opening and photographing a parcel addressed to his fellow councillor Paul Truscott.
Mr Saunders said acts like this were why the changes were needed, saying the government needs "powers to ensure ratepayers are not disadvantaged."
"We need legislation like this to make sure that councillors understand fully the Local Government Act, that they are compliant with it at all times and that they ensure that the ratepayers are looked after at all times," he said.
"If councillors understood the act, we would not have to have legislation such as this.
"If they knew how to behave as councillors, we would not have to come into this place to debate this legislation."